Simplify Maintenance with a Skimmer and Filter
Keeping your pond clean isn't difficult; once you get it down it'll be as routine as taking a bath. Your pond has two sources of pollution: debris that falls or blows into the water and algae. Pick up leaves and other windblown debris with a fine-mesh net. The type used for skimming swimming pools works great. Skim daily to prevent the material from sinking to the bottom, decomposing and creating sludge.
An easier but more expensive way to clean out this debris is with an automatic skimmer system, kind of a dishwasher for your pond. Once you have one, you can't imagine pond life without it. A skimmer system works off the inflow of your pump. Water is drawn through a tub containing a mesh bag that collects leaves, paper and other debris. The system bags it for you—all you have to do is empty the bag about once a week. The frequency will depend on the time of year, the amount of wind and the number of trees in your area. It's easiest to install a skimmer system w h e n y o u build your pond. If you decide to add it later, you'll have to drain your pond, dig a hole and readjust the liner.
The second threat to a clean pond is algae, microscopic plants that'll turn your pond green. A small amount of algae is beneficial, but large amounts can have your pond looking like the swamp monster scene from Scooby-Doo.
Keep algae at bay by limiting nutrients and sunlight. Here are some tips to do this:
- Shade the surface of the pond with water plants such as lilies. A good rule of thumb is to cover one-third of the surface with plants.
- Install a variety of plants. Plants consume nutrients from fish waste and decomposing matter in your pond, stealing the food algae need to live.
- Keep debris out of the water. As debris decomposes, it releases nutrients into the water.
- Don't overstock your pond with fish. Too many fish will release more nutrients than the plants and bacteria can consume, leaving food for algae.
- Don't overfeed your fish. Food not consumed by the fish provides nutrients for algae.
- As a further measure, biological and mechanical filters are available from your pond supplier. They take a lot of guesswork out of keeping a balanced, clean and clear pond.
Once you establish a biological balance in your pond, maintenance is minimal. A thorough annual cleaning (draining and rinsing out the pond) and periodic maintenance (keeping debris out) are all that's required.